• Food & Drink

    turkey’s national drink?

    These days there seems to be a lot of debate about what is and isn’t Turkey’s official line on just about everything. Recently, this discussion spilled over into what Turkey’s national drink is — with one rather prominent member of Turkey’s elected government stating: ayran (pronounced: “I ran”). As tempting as it is to boycott something on that basis alone, it really wouldn’t be worth it. Besides, you can’t really blame a drink for its fan club, now can you? Like blaming lager for louts … perhaps I digress? Made with yoghurt, water and a pinch of salt, Ayran is a powerhouse of refreshment — whether you’re depleted after a day in the heat, a night out, or suffering from insomnia, there’s something magic about this drink. It sets you back on your path somehow. It’s also pretty flippin’ tasty with a spicy meal. Next time you’re feeling a little under it all, I recommend you reach for an ayran. Whether you…

  • Food & Drink

    it’s too hot

    Istanbul has been sweltering. And even that tricky little trickle of water and so-called strait, otherwise known as the majestic Bosporus, doesn’t seem willing or able to wash the heat out even at night. As I’m cooking for guests tomorrow, I thought I’d start by giving an old favourite a new twist,  a cooling little concoction I’m calling”limonade” because I used more limes than lemons. Now let’s introduce you to the key flavours of our episode today … INGREDIENTS: 8 Limes 4 Lemons 6 cups of ice cold water 1 cup of brown sugar loosely packed 2 tablespoons of honey small bunch of basil (washed) small bunch of mint (washed) 1 inch of ginger peeled and cut into discs INSTRUCTIONS: Wash all the ingredients thoroughly. In a small pot on a low, low heat dissolve brown sugar into 2 cups of water. Add ginger discs. Zest one lemon and one lime and add to syrup mixture. Do not…

  • Food & Drink

    profile of a parasite killer: cocos nucifera

    Can you guess who our special guest is today, friends? That’s right, it’s Coconut — more formally known as Cocos Nucifera. Ms Nucifera is with us to preach a parasite-free existence. Don’t let that hard exterior fool you. At first she’s a tough nut to crack, yet once you get to know her, she’s really sweet on the inside, with plenty to offer in terms of health, beauty and overall wellbeing. However, what I like about her best is that she really helps do a number on pesky parasites. So what’s her secret in the battle on vile parasitic entities? Does she fling herself with stealth from the security of her palm fronds onto unsuspecting parasites and dash them into oblivion like a kamikaze of the fruit and nut world? Not exactly … she does, however, sacrifice her water and flesh for an array of delicious food and drinks that deal a one-two punch to many parasites, viruses, fungi and bacteria. In fact her…

  • Food & Drink

    ananas comosus

    Recently, I thought my death was imminent. Not at some hazy, grainy point in the future, but soon, perhaps lingering around the corner like a mugger. What had started as a feeling of persistent indigestion a couple weeks before we left Istanbul on a family vacation began to get steadily worse on a flight over the Indian Ocean. I didn’t sleep for more than 48 hours. After visiting a clinic, and being prescribed antibiotics, I became dehydrated. Though the doctor who treated me was an excellent guy, he didn’t want to guess as to what was causing my discomfort. There was the distinct possibility of an ulcer (as I’ve had one before) but like any responsible medical person he didn’t care to speculate as to why my symptoms weren’t improving, simply urged me to get more tests upon my return to Istanbul. So like any good sleep-deprived hypochondriac I punched…

  • Food & Drink,  Places

    a few good apples

    Today I’d like to show you a few good apples. They’re a little bit nicked and pocked in spots, but overall, pretty beautiful with an honest bite, surface to core. Perhaps that’s because they’re not modified or engineered to grow excessively large, or coated with wax to shine under fluorescent lamps. Cut one open and you can see the apple goodness. They’re from a farm that doesn’t manufacture apples — they’re from a farm that grows them. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to identify good apples, to tell those that are grown from those that are manufactured. I only wish I could say the same about elected leaders. Good luck at the polls, everyone. I’ve been thinking long and hard on your dilemma.

  • Food & Drink

    lately at cochine

    Well what do we have here? Thanks to Chef Maxwell and Co, some rather tasty new Vietnamese-inspired morsels debuted recently at Cochine (one of my favourite Istanbul haunts) so I was asked to come by and document the colourful array for marketing and social media purposes. Don’t know about you, but I’m suddenly rather hungry and looking forward to my next meal. Look at that mouthwatering Pak Choy below! Kind of makes me want to shout out loud. Yeah, baby.

  • Food & Drink

    turpentine latté: menengiç kahvesi

    Last weekend in Urfa, at the Gümrük Han, I experienced a new type of hot drink that is far tastier — and probably far healthier — than many a high street chain store latté, known as menengiç kahvesi. Made from the dried and roasted wild fruit of Pistacia Terebinthus or the Turpentine Tree, I’d like to dub it the Turpentine Latté in English! Sounds appetizing, no? Okay, maybe not. In any case, the first sip was something quite unexpected and quite delicious, and I felt compelled to sample a second, which was not as enjoyable because it was overly sweet. However, since trying it at home, unsweetened, as I normally take my black coffee, I’ve discovered this is a welcome alternative to an evening coffee, when you have no desire to go to bed with caffeine-induced heart palpitations, or stay up all night pondering the meaning of the universe. Despite my…

  • Food & Drink

    gnarly nutrition

    If Dirty Harry Callahan were turned into flower, he’d be an artichoke. No doubt. Tough and weathered on the outside but on the whole a force for good. He’d be a thistle in the side — I know, the expression is ‘thorn’ but artichokes are a type of thistle not rose — of any bad-ass interlopers who thought they could muscle in on his vegetable patch. Feeling lucky, punk? Eat an artichoke.

  • Food & Drink

    edible sunshine?

    Ever get the feeling that nature speaks in codes? This won’t come as a surprise to those who know me, but … I do. Especially when it comes to foods. That’s why I think our dietary needs are colour coded to tell us in which season they’d be most useful. Take yellow for instance. During flu season, I think of nature’s golden gifts. Whether it’s a lush, saturated orange-yellow as in Turmeric (both the dry, powdered form or fresh root) lemon, honey, ginger, all of which have powerful healing and health-preserving properties. It’s almost as if these naturally occurring colours provide the kind of stored-up sunshine we miss during the wan winter months when the light turns pale and washed out. Notice how the turmeric roots stain the wood? Call me crazy but the alchemist in me thinks of that as edible sunshine, my friends. Eat it up.

  • Food & Drink

    the ultimate grain

    Perhaps I’m biased, being descended from Scottish stock, but I think the humble wee oat is a champion among grains. I wonder if Robbie Burns ever made an ode to an oat? He certainly did an Address To A Haggis, and would haggis be the same beast without oats? Oats seem to have a special affinity for fruit, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves and thus make nice chewy cookies, or if you’re feeling like ramping up the fruit factor further, contribute magnificently to a spot of crumble. Perhaps even more intriguingly (for some of us, at least) they also wash down nicely when brewed into a fantastic kind of stout that finishes with an even more chocolatey silk finish than that possessed by a Guinness. God, I’d really love a pint now. I hope Brewmaster Hall at the Bosphorus Brewing Company is reading this. If you prefer to keep your oat…